Molesey Vets give pet reptile health advice for World Lizard Day

August 7, 2022

Pet reptiles can be tricky to look after if you don’t do the proper research first. Some of our Vets in our East Molesey practice have a special interest in veterinary care for reptiles and for this year’s World Lizard Day, are sharing their guide to common reptile health problems.

Contact us about reptile care

Vet Darren Partridge recommends that wannabe owners of lizards, bearded dragons, snakes, and other exotic pets in Surrey, should consider the following reptile diseases and common conditions before introducing a new pet into their home.

If you know someone else who is thinking of getting a pet reptile, be sure to share this article with them.

Pet reptile health problems

5 common reptile viruses and signs of bad health

  1. Adenovirus – common in king snakes and bearded dragons, symptoms include weight loss, appetite loss, and lesions on the intestines and liver. Neurological diseases can follow if left untreated.
  2. Flavivirus – transmitted by eating infected insects, can cause liver disease, encephalitis, stomatitis, and death.
  3. Herpesvirus – can lead to pneumonia and neurological issues. Common signs of reptile herpes include weakness, appetite loss, nasal discharge, eyelid swelling, and regurgitation.
  4. Iridovirus – can damage tissue in the liver, kidneys, and spleen, and cause anaemia if it attacks the red blood cells.
  5. Poxvirusmostly found in lizards and tortoises but can affect other reptiles. Signs include skin lesions all over the body, but mostly concentrated on the head.

Darren warns that the reptile diseases that can be passed to humans include salmonella, campylobacteriosis, botulism, and leptospirosis. Therefore, hygiene is paramount when handling your pet reptile and cleaning out their housing. You should always clean your hands thoroughly before and after handing your reptile or anything they use, and in between handling different types of reptiles.

3 common reptile health problems

  1. Ectoparasites – Mites live on the skin’s surface and are the most common external parasite that affects reptiles. You may notice them as red or black dots hanging around eyes, ears, and inside skin folds around the joints. Reptile mites can cause stress and skin irritation and can be difficult to eradicate. Lizards and snakes are most affected.
  2. Fungal diseases in reptiles – Although it’s correct for many reptiles to live in damp conditions, this can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Darren recommends checking your pet regularly for signs of fungal infections and bad health. If you notice damp, weak, or damaged skin, talk to our friendly Vets might advise trying an anti-fungal spray specially designed for reptiles.
  3. Metabolic bone disorder – This is an extremely common reptile condition that is typically caused by a lack of proper care, insufficient UV lighting, not enough vitamin D, nor the correct diet for their development. Lizards and tortoises are more at risk as they also require calcium as a supplement. You can help to prevent metabolic bone disorder in lizards and other reptiles by installing adequate UV lighting and a timing mechanism (a thermostat-driven UV heat lamp is ideal) to ensure your pet gets the right amount of light and heat. Darren advises that it’s important to provide the correct diet, supplements, and any special treatments your species of reptile needs too.

Unfortunately, not all reptile diseases and conditions are preventable. Therefore, doing thorough research prior to purchase is key. Understanding what’s normal for your species of reptile can make it easier to spot signs of bad health.

When you’re all set, it’s a great idea to contact animal rescue centres in Surrey or further afield to ask if they have pet reptiles needing homes.

The team at Molesey Veterinary Centre hope you found our article on reptile diseases useful. Why not help other wannabe reptile owners by sharing it? Hit the share button or copy the URL and share away!

Contact us about reptile care

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